There is a saying that gets trotted out usually quite defensively – Age is just a number. But is that right?
I read an article recently about the decade in your life when you are most effective. The rather surprising answer was that you are most effective in your 60s. The next most effective decade is your 70s and the third is your 50s. The body might be getting a bit rusty and worn but the mind is at its best. No doubt this is a combination of a lifetime of learning and years of experiences. I suppose it’s a bit like a tractor which measures the hours of running time and not the miles it has covered.
The article supported the conclusions with the number of politicians and business leaders who are in their 60s and 70s. Strong capable individuals with a lifetime of experience on which to draw.
So, is age just a measure of the hours on your clock? But that metric influences our own behaviors, our behavior towards other people and their behaviors towards us. When you meet someone of a certain age, you make judgments. There are that initial few seconds or minutes when you are pigeonholed by your age and appearance. Attitudes are funny things. We are not born with them but we learn them as we grow but they also change and evolve with our own life experiences.
I think it is quite funny now looking back on my thoughts and actions of a few years ago. The experiences that we have had since Helen and I launched The Long Partnership back in 2001 have changed and molded us into the people we are today, whether good or bad. Just think what we could do now if we could take our current selves back to that time and launch all over again. But there you have it, you cannot put old heads on young shoulders. Nice idea though.
So, we just have to accept that we are here today and we are the result of everything we have gone through and all the experiences that we have had. Is it the good ones or the bad ones that have the greatest influence? I suspect it is a bit of both but I personally would say that the not so good ones probably taught us the most. They probably taught us not to be so stupid again.
One thing that I have noticed is that while attitudes are in your mind, they influence behaviour and so are reflected in the physical. But then physical activity, especially exercise and sport, influence your mind and your attitudes towards life.
Many years ago I realised that I was overweight and working in a stressful occupation. I don’t really do stress, well not in my mind anyway, but there are occasions when we are under pressure, such as the last week of January.
So, I decided that I needed to lose some weight. I used to be pretty active especially when the kids were young so I have always been reasonably fit, but overweight. As the business grew it became harder to participate in sports and so over the years, I have developed a workout routine for the mornings that I can do wherever I am at the time. I am trusting that the partnership between my mind and body is a strong one that benefits both. I think it does.
I suppose that in setting my weight loss goal all those years ago, I also proved another point which is you manage what you measure. I find that this is something that many people do not understand. They think that the process wastes time and is unnecessary. But as far as I am concerned it is a pre-requisite to achieving any significant goal. It’s how you are accountable to yourself and to others. I started to write down my weight every morning without fail, a process that I still follow all these years later. I work on the principal that I am a certain weight and it is better that I know what it is.
I also made changes to my life generally. I disrupted the normal pattern of my life. I started doing some things and I stopped others. It was a lifestyle change not a diet, and I probably lost the first 20 kilos in under 3 months. I still write down my weight every morning and I have not really had a weight problem ever since.
I see a lot of people who are overweight, lead a sedentary lifestyle and look older than their years. I also see many active business owners with strong positive outlooks who are active and look young for their age. It does not mean that they are necessarily positive about the economy, but they are positive in their ability to overcome whatever gets thrown at them. They are highly motivated and hungry for the next challenge. I hope that includes me!
I had a beard for a long time. I did the lifestyle change and lost a load of weight and then in the following year, I shaved off my beard. The funny thing was the number of people who, seeing me without a beard, commented that I have lost weight. Aren’t people funny.
Anyway, if age is indeed just a number. Don’t let it define you.
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership